If you come at the queen (of romance), you best not miss.
That’s the lesson that one Nora Roberts fan learned when she tried to insist that she knew more about the publishing industry than the author who has published 225 novels in her 40-year career.
The fan, posting under the name Debra in the comments section of a blog for Roberts fans, expressed dismay that the author’s follow-up to her novel The Awakening won’t be released for another year. The ensuing smackdown was highlighted on Twitter by romance author Chelsea M. Cameron.
Listen, at least you aren’t the person who’s arguing with NORA ROBERTS that you know how publishing works better than she does.— Chelsea M. Cameron (@chel_c_cam) December 3, 2020
“Why? WHY?” Debra wrote. “I know it is a longer book and more complicated. But I also know she likely actually finished it 6-8 months before release.”
In a follow-up comment she wrote, “What is wrong with suggesting that the publisher can alter a release schedule? They can and they do. Publishers can and do publish books in less than 6-8 months. Fact.”
An unamused Roberts replied, “I have personally explained the process to you, Debra. You are not stating facts but opinions. But you continue to contradict me, as you apparently think you know more about publishing than I do, and more than the industry professionals I work with.”
Roberts continued, “I am NOT your slave. The publisher is not your slave. Now go ahead, tell me you’ll never read me again because I’m a rude bitch who doesn’t respect my readers. I don’t care because respecting my readers, my work, and the people who work so hard to put my books out is why it takes so long.”
Roberts’ follow-up to The Awakening is slated for publication in the fall of 2021, which presumably leaves Debra plenty of time to learn how the publishing industry actually works.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.